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How fake news damages brands

Fake news has been dominating news headlines since the 2016 US presidential election. Recent research from PR agency LEWIS highlights how the prevalence of fake news is damaging trust in news and brands. The report, The Role of Fake News on Media and Brand Consumption, discusses what fake news is; how it spreads; who’s responsible for its proliferation; and its impact on media and brands.

Key findings

  • 72% of respondents say that social media platforms should be responsible for blocking sources of fake news
  • 78% believe fake news damages the credibility of the media industry
  • 61% say they have read articles they later found out to be fake news on multiple occasions
  • 75% feel these articles hurt the media industry
  • 66% say they only trust content from media outlets they are familiar with
  • 64% say they only trust content from sponsored by brands they know

Loss of media credibility

Discussing what he found most shocking about the research findings, Miles Daniels, vice president of media strategy at LEWIS, says: “I was especially taken aback by how the rapid proliferation of fake news has impacted the general public's perception of American news and brands. Nearly four-in-five Americans surveyed, reported fake news has damaged the credibility of the media industry. That’s a significant number and one that’s going to have ramifications on the news industry for a long time to come.

PROs must be vigilant

“For those of us who work in the communications industry, the proliferation of fake news means that we must be more vigilant than ever, making sure that we’re always providing journalists with accurate and timely information. For some brands, it will also mean increased media monitoring and reputation management to make sure they don’t end up on the receiving end of fake news.”

Focus on quality

In terms of what media outlets and journalists can do to separate themselves from fake news, Daniels suggests they must check their facts and focus on quality content. “By all indications, fake news will remain in the public domain until either traditional media organisations, the platforms responsible for spreading fake news, or consumers can reliably combat falsehoods or deny fake news its desired impacts.”

Never give up the fight

Fake news is nothing new, but the problem is that it changes its style and formats to remain convincing, which is why communications professionals can never relax in the fight against misinformation. Daniels concludes: “Fake news assumes many forms. It has done so throughout history, and will likely continue to do so well into the future.”


LEWIS Research surveyed around 1,000 Americans from a variety of backgrounds on their feelings about the proliferation of fake news. The full report is available here.

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